18 November 2009

A Hiatus

I'm not blogging again, at least until after Christmas. There are three main reasons:

First, I can rely on the blogosphere, or even the Internet for fellowship, but not for communion, and if I cannot find any way to articulate the manner in which I am in full and proper communion with either my parish priest or my Bishop, while each of them claims to be in communion with the Pope, I need to spend time looking for why somewhere other than here.

Second, I want to reflect on trad Catholic blogging from the outside: the LMS created a fortress of insularity because it needed to. I think that time has gone, but I sometimes sense a new insularity online, that seems to value an idea of ultratrad heteropraxis. "My praxy is better than your praxy" is less bad than "my doxy is better than your doxy", but it isn't good.

(First and second leave me wondering what exactly the Catholic blogosphere is: not national exactly, and not a comunion; not a movement, even if "New"; unguided, unshepherded, even if blessed with a really rich crop of posting pastors; what is the sense in which it is "Catholic" when it consists of lots of people expressing their own interpretation of things?)

Third, I'm not convinced that I'm keeping up with the Zeitgeist: lot's of you are racing off while I feel quite happy at rest. The fact that I can go to EF Mass every week if I try, and so can lots of others, while we can also go to OF Mass every day, feels like a decent start, and one worth bedding in, especially if the alternative involves lots of arguing. I have some big things to argue about with my spiritual betters, but the availability of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass isn't one of them.

I'll still haunt you: I'll comment when I feel moved to. But a pause for reflection might throw up an idea about whether I have anything unquerulous to say, and about how to say it.

God Bless you all, and be assured of my daily prayers.

10 November 2009

Prayers, Please, Times Three

Once, for the family of a dear friend and commenter who has just become a grandfather.

Secondly, for Fr Hunwicke, faced with a big choice.

Third, for a Catholic priest who, up to the limits with his Bishop, took the Anglican option to maintain, as he thought, his opportunity to be Catholic. A Motu Proprio and an Apostolic Constitution later, and he is in a very difficult position indeed, and needs lots and lots of prayers.

08 November 2009


Over in the valley of the River Adur, Fr Sean posted something really good about the manner in which those attached to more traditional forms of Catholic worship should celebrate. He didn't say that 1962 Missal is perfection, just that messing about with the rubrics at this time would be a really unsensible thing to do. I agree wholeheartedly with him.

The best way, perhaps, to think of what happened in the Roman Church after Vatican II and until the election of the current Pope, is to compare it with the iconoclasm which shook the East in the eighth and ninth centuries, not least because one of the arguments the iconoclasts used was that only in the Divine Liturgy itself could Christ Himself be truly seen, and Mass itself, and the manner in which it is celebrated is an icon.

Our iconoclasts have not given up: they are bent on maintaining their austere vision of a communal gathering in a whitewashed hall and will fight for it. They are tremedously powerful, and are cornered, so their victory over a disunited opponent is almost assured: their victory over a united opponent is much less so.

Let's not tryto unpick the reforms of Pius X or Pius XII just yet: let's concentrate on placing 1962 in opposition to "the spirit of Vatican II", and defeating that. Let's behave like Catholics and think in centuries: few of those of us alive today will see the way the Church rights herself after such a turbulent century as the twentieth, so let's not try to bring the Millennium about by ourselves. And let's make sure that we don't make of ourselves a focus for disunity by deciding that the rubrics are for others, and not for us.

07 November 2009

Something Latvian For the Weekend

Some years ago, I was in Mons in Belgium representing my country and had left an interminable reception to go outside for a smoke. I met a Latvian colleague there and told him that I remembered hearing a beautiful Latvian song once years before, and that the tune had never left me, and sang it for him. "You mean 'Saule Perkons Daugava'" he said, and fished out a CD from his pocket and gave it me there and then. It is one of the most evocative pieces of music I know, and sung here by 10,000 people, it sounds good (though I will confess I prefer the non-electric version I have on disc).

03 November 2009

Fr Hugh Thwaites

I had been looking for some new mp3s to listen to on the bus and went to the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice website to see if they had anything. Nothing much inspired me, but I was sufficiently intrigued by the following quote to download a couple of talks:

War Memoirs of an Amateur by Rev. Hugh Thwaites SJ

"In that first letter home I told my parents I had become a Catholic since leaving England, and that, in spite of everything (42 months in Changi gaol) I'd had the happiest three and a half years of my life".

The first talk was better recorded than the second, but, that apart, this is an experience separate to any I have ever had. I have heard many stories of captivity by the Japanese, but none before that have been inspired by Christian Joy. This story has been a life-changing experience for me. I have never so wanted a story not to end since childhood.

01 November 2009

The Future In Clifton ...

I posted a few days ago about the forthcoming reorganisation of the parishes of the diocese of Clifton: the draft report is here.

What irks me (well, one of the things that irks me) is the assumption that the decline in vocations to the priesthood in their diocese is inevitable. Their "best case scenario" assumes that the number of priests will decline by 30% in the next fifteen years (the ridiculously implausible worst case shows a 75% decline, the "median case" - the management-speak is all-pervasive - shows a 40% decline). Do a search on the word "vocation" however, and nothing is found.

If you pentrate the opaque language, however, then some of what this is all about becomes clearer:

"Part of our preparation for the future was the diocesan-wide consultation process “Seeking the Face of Christ” during which a very strong sense emerged that, though we recognise an incredible richness in our past and present, there are aspects of how we operate as a diocese, especially with regard to how we are organised for evangelisation and pastoral care, that need to be reconsidered. This need to reconsider our structures was taken into account in our Diocesan Guidelines “Called to be a People of Hope”, where, tellingly, it has been included in the section ‘Church as Communion’. We are reminded that:

“The root of our understanding of Church as Communion is not ensuring efficient management but understanding what sort of Church God is calling us to be. Pope John Paul II in his letter to mark the beginning of the new millennium reminded us that when the structures of the Church reflect the self-giving love of the Trinity then this: “spirituality of communion supplies institutional reality with a soul”. (NMI 45)

We trust in God that he will give us all that we need to achieve the mission he entrusts to us."

"... what sort of Church God is calling us to be ...": in other words "We are Church".

Linz am Avon?